P stones and provos : group violence in Northern Ireland and Chicago
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Although the government of the United States of America was established to protect the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness among all American citizens, this thesis argues intractable gang violence in inner-city Chicago has persistently denied these rights, in turn undermining fundamental (and foundational) American political values. Thus, gang violence can be argued to represent a threat to both civil order and state legitimacy. Yet, where comparable (and generally lower) levels of community-level violence in Northern Ireland garnered the sustained attention and direct involvement of the United Kingdom's central government, the challenge posed by gang violence has been unappreciated, if not ignored, by the American federal government. In order to mobilise the political commitment and resources needed to find a durable resolution to Chicago's long and often anarchic 'uncivil war', it is first necessary to politicise the problem and its origins. Contributing to this politicisation, this thesis explains why gang violence in Chicago has been unable to capture the political imagination of the American government in a way akin to paramilitary (specifically republican) violence in Northern Ireland. Secondly, it explains how the depoliticisation of gang violence has negatively affected response, encouraging the continued application of inadequate and largely ineffective response strategies. Finally, it makes the case that, while radical, a conditional agreement-centric peace process loosely modelled on that employed in Northern Ireland might offer the most effective strategy for restoring the sense of peace and security to inner-city Chicago lost over half a century ago.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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